Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were not voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There is no reason to make this complicated. A prolonged ovation, please, for members of the Baseball Writers Association of America for their performance-enhancing decision to keep the outlaws out of the game's Hall of Fame Wednesday.
Barry Bonds? Popped it up. Roger Clemens? Call your attorney. Mark McGwire? No comment. Sammy Sosa? Stick a cork in it.
For only the eighth time in history and first time in 17 seasons, nobody is going to Cooperstown, N.Y. next summer. Houston second baseman Craig Biggio came closest to drawing the necessary 75 percent approval from the voters, but finished 39 votes short.
But Bonds and his 762 home runs, Clemens and his 354 victories and McGwire and Sosa with the memories of their now bogus chase to bury Roger Maris' home run record in 1998 did not make the cut. Clemens was named to 38 percent of the ballots, Bonds only 36. (For the record, I am not a Hall voter.)
The voters obviously failed to believe their claims that they did not use performance-enhancing drugs. Good for them. A blast of accountability. Unusual. Refreshing. Overdue.
Help will be on the way next season when Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina and several other worthy players move on to the ballot.
I know the official story is that of the four players in the group, only McGwire has sort of, kind of, tepidly acknowledged that he juiced, even though he stretched the insult by insisting that he did it for health, not performance, reasons. McGwire couldn't even get his apology right.
The others, especially Clemens and Sosa, have maintained that they did not break the rules and then lawyered up to prevail in several showdowns with authorities. I tuned out Bonds after he explained that he really didn't understand what he was doing when he used the cream and the clear.
Big deal. Lance Armstrong played the denial game for years. Now you can reportedly look for Lance to try to profit for going a different direction with the assistance of Oprah Winfrey. Can't wait.
Marion Jones played the denial game for a long time, too. Ditto for Ben Johnson. Ken Caminiti. Shawne Merriman. The East German swimmers. Fill in the blank with anybody I have forgotten. I forgot my PEDs today. It's a long and disturbing list, one that has shaken and stirred the cynicism pot whenever a sports record falls.
That's only the beginning of the fallout from what these guys have done. They have contributed to an atmosphere where it is reasonable and necessary to question every performance that stretches the record book in every sport. Is it a superior athlete? Or superior chemicals?
One place where Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and Sosa have not prevailed remains the court of public opinion. They have their supporters but many polls have shown baseball fans don't like what those guys did to the record book.
Numbers and statistics matter to baseball fans more than they do to fans of other games. Box scores. The weekly stats in the Sunday newspaper. Using the figures at the conclusion of the season to measure how today's home run champion compares to guys from several generations ago. It's a major component of being a baseball fan.
The steroid generation ruined that fun. They took the record book, especially the home run mark, and turned it upside down.
You know the numbers. In case you have forgotten, here is a reminder: McGwire (70) and Sosa (66) buried Marisa's major-league home run record of 61 during the 1998 season. McGwire backed it up by hitting 65 more in 1999.
Now it was time for Bonds to get in the game. Sosa hit 50 to lead the National League in 2000, but Bonds was getting primed for his thunderous assault, the one that resulted in 73 home runs in 2001.
Eventually, thanks to Jose Canseco, the Mitchell Report and a public backlash, baseball tightened its rules and modernized testing policies.
Guess how many players have hit 50 homers or more since 2008?
Just one. It was Jose Bautista of Toronto – and he had to deal with a string of questions about his improved performance. I wonder why. Maybe the competitive character of the game has been restored.
That's the legacy of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa – a legacy that should not include a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.